A philosophy missing from today’s culture?


You will forgive me if I muse a bit on what I saw today and how I reflected on it afterwards, but I think perhaps you might finish reading this and agree with me. Perhaps you will have a different perspective as well. An old man can hope.

I found myself paying for gas and a few other things in a convenience store today. As I went to pay for my things I stood in line behind a fit young man, likely in his early twenties. As the young man reached the counter he began a conversation with the clerk, with whom he was obviously acquainted. The young man took a few moments to select from a large number of scratch-off style lottery tickets as the clerk asked him if he was still going to a community college nearby. The young man responded that he wasn’t attending school anymore, saying that he didn’t have the time or desire to do so.

After the young man departed with his beer and lottery tickets, and I with my things and paid for gasoline, I began to think about what I had seen.

Here was a young man, fit and seemingly healthy, with his whole life ahead of him. Circumstances had even made it possible for him to attend college to become a professionally trained and educated…whatever he chose as his goal. And yet he had quit going to college, stating that he didn’t intend to return. This statement in itself was a sad for his potential future, but it was his purchase of several lottery tickets combined with what he said that struck me.

It was clear by his purchase that though he didn’t “have time” to better himself, he did have time to try to get rich with no effort or study. If only he knew Kung-Fu. If only.

That seems like a strange thing to say after such an encounter, you might say to yourself. How would knowing Kung-Fu change his choices, isn’t it a fighting style(s)?

While Kung-Fu does incorporate martial arts, many of which are very beautiful, fighting is not what Kung-Fu is primarily about. The translation of the word Kung-Fu that comes from the Chinese meaning any study or practice that requires patience, energy and time to master. A scientist who studies the universe and has spent years in education could be said to have Kung-Fu. A teenager who plays the violin beautifully after practicing for hours every day could be said to know Kung-Fu. And of course, someone who puts the same time, effort and discipline into martial arts is someone who could have Kung-Fu.

If this young man, so full of potential knew the meaning of Kung-Fu and embraced mastery of his learning towards a potential future, he would have no need of a lottery ticket and the whims of fate to find meaning in wealth. His pursuit of excellence through knowledge and discipline would in many ways become his meaning, without the need of an end goal.

I cannot help but see this present day as full of this young man’s way of thinking. Everyone wants success, but no one wants to practice Kung-Fu to get there.

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